two weeks later, what is most remarkable, is that nothing stands out about prague. The architecture was amazing, admittedly, but it was drowned on the ground by billions of tourist, all of whom seemed to have brought their skanky russian mistress. the city is steeped in fascinating history, and each building tells a story, but in the end i found the city far too overwhelming given my short stay of less than 36 hours. plus, i was recovering from an aforementioned bavarian drinking escapade. goddamn turks!
in old cities such as prague I am always turned off by the volume of tourism that comes through .I understand that the tourism helps sustain the quality of the buildings, but really, these structures were fine before the floodgates were opened and would live a natural life without the loads of incoming euros. so, in retrospect, i offer this to those who have 'developed' this city since its soviet release: a more subtle approach would have been appreciated. for example, in Wenceslas Square, i was hoping to somehow appreciate how a few thousand czech dissidents gathered here 40 years ago and announced a prague spring. demands of the audience would include a soviet thaw -- a step away from the hardcore values of control and iron fists. a bohemian left emerged and stood tall against soviet tanks which rolled through and killed an unknown amount of dissidents. so you stand there at this square looking slightly uphill to the National Museum, and you think to yourself: if you had to do it over again, would you stop at four McDonalds on this two mile strip? or would you super size and go for six? If you had your choice, and were rebuilding a country, and wanted to emphasize how distant you are from a soviet top-down economy, would you build threee casinos and four sex shops? or vice versa?
i live in a neighbhorhood overrun by tourists. in the summer, they walk up and down my street, sometimes blocking my driveway with double decker busses. half a mile downstream you could not turn without seeing several strip clubs and sex shops. this sort of development does not bother me in general . I just wish they would have left prague alone -- for all i had heard about it, and for all its history, and its ancient jewish community, and its modern soviet stand, and its peaceful re-incarnation as a new republic -- it would have been to let this one lay low.
But we all understand how this works. Prague is beautiful and old, tremendously romantic and built across rivers and centuries. The commodification of history , architecture and love could not be stopped by soviet tanks, much less you or me. It is simply a reality -- at once beautiful and gross, not unlike that skanky russian mistress.